Billings City Council to meet for last time in 2013

2013-12-09T00:00:00Z 2013-12-09T08:57:04Z Billings City Council to meet for last time in 2013By ED KEMMICK ekemmick@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

For its last meeting of 2013, the Billings City Council has a fairly long agenda.

The council would normally meet twice in December but voted this fall to alter its schedule and cancel a few business meetings and work sessions, partly to make time for some strategic-planning meetings.

The meeting on Monday will start at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.

One of the more contentious agenda items is likely to be a special-review request to build two four-plexes on a 20,250-square-foot parcel on the southwest corner of Boulder Avenue and Rehberg Lane.

The applicant, Jeremy Freyenhagen, told the City Zoning Commission that he lives several blocks from the site and wants to build the four-plexes to provide housing for his daughter, who has special needs, as well as for her friends and others with similar needs.

On-site manager

He told the commission the housing wouldn’t be restricted to those with special needs, but one of the units would be reserved for an on-site manager who would be available 24 hours a day to deal with any problems.

Freyenhagen needs the special review to build the four-plexes on the site, which is zoned Residential-60. Two neighbors signed a letter supporting his plans, but four other people, either neighbors or representatives of neighbors, spoke in opposition.

They expressed worries about off-street parking, already heavy in the area, an overabundance of multifamily developments and traffic congestion.

The Zoning Commission ultimately voted 4-0 to recommend that the City Council approve the special review, with nine recommended conditions.

In another land-use item, the owner of a building at 2940 Grand Ave. is seeking a variance from parking regulations on behalf of Beartooth Crossfit, which intends to move into the building.

There are eight parking spots on site, but a gym would normally be required to have 12. However, a co-owner of the gym said in a letter to the city that a Crossfit gym is “dramatically different from a conventional fitness center.”

Instead of constant drop-in traffic, there would be three to five members there at a time participating in specific fitness classes. City staff has recommended approval of the variance.

Internet access for library

Also up for a vote is acceptance of a donation of high-speed broadband Internet access for the new Billings Public Library, scheduled to open Jan. 6. Integra Telecom Corp. is proposing to donate the services, valued at $270,000, for five years.

Integra has said it would be interested in providing the service for an even longer period, but the agreement up for council consideration has a term of five years.

The council will also vote on budget amendments for fiscal year 2013-14, and on an ordinance amending subdivision regulations in city code to make them consistent with laws passed by the 2013 state Legislature.

There are also several interesting items on the consent agenda, which is voted on all at once unless a council member asks to have an item removed for a separate vote.

One is a contract renewal with Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter to continue operating the Billings Animal Shelter through July 1, 2016.

The shelter has been run by YVAS since 2008.

Under the contract, the organization shares the shelter at 1735 Monad Road with City Animal Control. YVAS maintains the facility and grounds, except for areas used by animal control, and it shares utility costs with the city.

Also on the consent agenda is a resolution to create a 10-member ad hoc advisory committee on right-of-way special events. It would be tasked with making recommendations to the council on a policy balancing the benefits of allowing certain events to take place on closed city streets with the needs of businesses and residents.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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